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Allow 'Treat ungraded as 0' in New Gradebook

Allow 'Treat ungraded as 0' in New Gradebook


It would be very useful to be able to use the 'Treat ungraded as 0' feature of the current Gradebook in the New Gradebook, especially once the New Gradebook becomes the default in January 2020. I understand that not having this option seems to be by design, however there are use cases relevant to our tertiary institution that I would like to outline to see if they gather support among the Canvas Community. Please feel free to add your own use cases in the comments if this is relevant to you as well.


Our teaching staff use the Total column in the Gradebook to view how well a student is doing overall in their unit attempt. Not having the 'Treat ungraded as 0' feature in the future will mean that:


1. At the start of a teaching period – if say, 2/5 assignments have been completed by students and graded – the Total column will display a grade that is the scaled-up version of where they are sitting, working on the assumption that the other assignments are to be ignored. It would be possible for someone to achieve 100% in both completed assessments, and the Total column would then display a score of 100%. This is not an accurate reflection of where the student is at in terms of their overall completion of the unit and means the instructor has to do manual work, or ensure they set up assignment groups in particular ways, to try and figure out an accurate representation of student progress.


2. At the end of a teaching period – once all assignments have been completed by students and graded – the Total column will display a scaled-up grade for any students who have not completed any assignments or are missing grades. For these students, in reality, their non-submission is equivalent to a score of 0 – however in the New Gradebook, the Total column will not reflect this. This makes it difficult for instructors to review their cohort's progress and standing once the teaching period is complete, before those grades are to be formally sent to the SIS for release.


The only suggestion I've seen so far to mitigate against these issues is to use a Missing Submission policy.

How do I apply a Missing Submission policy in the New Gradebook?


This is not an adequate solution in our case.


In the case of example 1 above: at early stages of semester, students won't actually have 'missing' submissions – those submissions will be due in the future. A Missing Submissions policy would not apply.


In the case of example 2 above: Missing Submission policies do not apply to No Submission or On Paper assignments, LTI assignments, or assignments that do not have due dates set. We also cannot force Missing Submission policies at the account level, or via API when each individual Canvas course is created, to ensure consistency across our institution for such a crucial display issue. This would mean that even if it were an acceptable solution in other regards (and as per example 1, it isn't quite there in this case), we would be asking all of our institution's instructors to apply the same Missing Submission policy, and ensure that the exceptions to the policy as above also had 0 grades implemented where students had not submitted work. Not only is there scope for error here across large institutions such as ours, but this seems a disproportionate amount of effort to ask instructors to go to simply so that they can see an accurate reflection of their student's total grades for the overall unit.


This is a crucial issue for us, as we need instructors to be able to see how their students are doing throughout, and at the end of semester – this information informs moderation, future assessment design, learning outcomes, and reporting to faculty.


Others have suggested that the Missing Submission policy feature be amended (‌), and while I agree that it could use further flexibility, in our above case it would not quite solve our problems. It would be a simpler solution to allow the new Gradebook to set 'Treat ungraded as 0' to on or off instead. I understand that the Gradebook CSV Export is still calculating the Unposted Final Grade anyway – so the 'Treat ungraded as 0' score is still there in the system, just not being displayed at the UI level.


This idea has been developed and deployed to Canvas

For more information, please read through the Canvas Release Notes (2021-02-20) - Canvas Community 

Community Champion

 @matthew_metcalf ‌ and  @mrosenberg2 ‌ It is true that this is as important (or more so) for students as for teachers.  I have started adding zeros for missing assignments as soon as they are late, even when my late policy allows additional submissions.  This prompts students to actually submit those late submissions, by showing them the impact to their grade even if they were not paying attention. The option to let canvas do this automatically works well in the new gradebook.

Students actually do have access to the option to treat ungraded as zeros, but I find that they need to be told how important it is.  This is the default student view of the gradebook:

a screen shot of the student view of the gradebook with "calculate only based on graded assignments" checked in the right-side menu

When students uncheck the box labeled "calculate based only on graded assignments" in the right-side menu their view updates to treat ungraded as zeros:

331544_count ungraded as zeros.PNG

Instructors cannot turn it on for students, but we can take a moment to share instructions for where to look and a "test student" example of why it matters. 

New Member

This may be true if you have due dates attached to your assignments but it is not true if there are no due dates. I teach public speaking and students speak on different days and sometimes the schedule gets off because a student will go over time. If I set up canvas the way your suggesting then I will be spending the rest of my waking life trying to fix due dates for the 100+ students I have.  

Putting that aside, how do how calculate final grades if you, the instructor, cannot see whether the grade was counted or not? Having to manually put in a zero for every assignment that didn't have a due date is a pain staking task I would prefer to avoid. 

Suggestion? Advice? Or can we go back to the way it was? 

Community Champion

It's true, I do attach due dates to my assignments.  I also program the lowest scores in certain assignment groups to be automatically dropped, and canvas does show me which grades do not count by coloring the cell. How do I change the color for a grading status in the New Gradebook?   Plus, canvas correctly calculates the final grade for me, but of course, the final calculation is only correct because I have entered zeros for missing grades.


I also would not want to set an individual due date for each of 100 students, however I would not recommend letting canvas late policies set a "missing" score for assignments that are not submitted directly through canvas.


Instead, in those assignments for which you do not schedule due dates (or for which you accept submissions outside of canvas), I would wait until after the last student's submission is graded, and then use the "set default grade" option in the drop down menu for that assignment to automatically enter a zero in every blank that does not yet have a grade.  I use this setting in my F2F classes.  It will enter a real zero that will show up in both your gradebook and the student view as well. It will not toggle on and off.  As stefaniesanders‌ pointed out above: How do I set a default grade for an assignment in the New Gradebook? "Just remember not to enable the 'Overwrite already-entered grades' checkbox."

New Member

Basically you are telling me that canvas won't change back to the "treat ungraded as zero". And furthermore you're telling me to to go through each assignment (roughly 20 per student) for a hundred students and use the default grade....

Is this community forum attempting to enact change and have it make sense for the people using it, is it just a way for you to try to explain new canvas policies? 

In short, for a class like mine, your suggestions and the new canvas grade book add hours of work to the end of the term. 

I wish this conversation was helpful.  

Community Champion

Hi Matthew,

That was my mistake.  Please let me introduce myself.  I teach history at South Louisiana Community College, where Canvas is our Learning Management System.  I have learned, mostly through trial and error, how to make canvas do what I need in order to teach my classes.  I cannot cause the canvas team to return the function to "treat ungraded as zero," but we can all contribute to convincing them by voting in favor of this idea.  It is my understanding that you could chose to finish out the fall 2019 semester in the old gradebook, but that the new gradebook will become mandatory in mid January.

It is my experience that the changes we request do not instantly get implemented, so for now all I can do, is tell you what works for me as a way to avoid the hours of extra work you refer to.  Twenty times (not 20x100 just simply 20 times since you have 20 assignments) after the last grade is entered for each assignment, the drop down menu at the top of the assignment allows you to automatically and simultaneously add zeros to every cell in that assignment where there is not already a grade.  This setting is called "set default grade." It takes three clicks per assignment to enter all the zeros.  You do not need to add them manually one cell at a time.  I know that three clicks per assignment is more than "treat ungraded as zero" was for the entire gradebook, but it has the advantage of showing those zeros to students, which "treat ungraded as zero" never did.  This advantage caused me to use "set default grade" over "treat ungraded as zero" even in the old gradebook.  That feature works the same way it always has.


I would only recommend waiting until the end of the term for those assignments that have submissions pending until the end of term.  Entering zeros in each assignment as the semester progresses gives students a more accurate view of their grade, so there are no surprises at the end of the semester.  So unless you allow students to turn in every one of those 20 assignments on the last day of class, this will take three clicks here and three clicks there as assignments are completed.

New Member


Very kind of you to clarify, respond, and spend a fair amount of thought and time into helping/guiding me. 

I teach 5 sections of twenty students each, so it becomes a bit cumbersome at the end of term. Once asking canvas, they sent me to this forum to vote and comment, saying their staff regularly keeps up with what's going on. I assumed from your responses that you were staff trying to help me understand the "new ways." I guess I am unclear how this "community" works but am pleased you are a part of it. 

Having said that, I really appreciate you taking the time to help me. My mistake and apologies. Have a great end of term! 

Handshake in thought, 


Community Champion

 @rosenbma  Welcome to the canvas community Matthew!  I didn't initially realize you had just joined the canvas community.  Canvas describes the idea process detail here: How does the feature idea process work in the Canvas Community?

Basically, the votes give them a measure of demand and the discussion gives them an idea of how we would use the requested feature.  There are more than a thousand ideas open for votes, so some ideas take a while, but the discussions often include work-arounds that will help.  Sometimes canvas comments directly, but in general everyone you encounter is using canvas as a teacher / course designer / admin.

If any of your sections are covering the same course, with identical content and due dates, you could ask your canvas admin to combine your sections into one canvas course, when you set up for the next semester.  (I'm not sure it would save the grades if you did that for your current classes.) I've only combined sections that are video-linked with identical schedules, so I'm typically working with 5-7 active canvas courses.  I agree there are many parts that can feel cumbersome, especially if (like me) you do not have the assistance of a course designer.  I hope you find a solution that works for you

New Member

Yes, I tell my students to turn it on at the beginning of the term. Otherwise, since I drop one exam and several quizzes they always assume that they are doing better than they are at the end of the term. When they decide not to take the optional final, that grade becomes a 0 and the grade that was being dropped before returns, often dropping them by a whole letter grade. 

New Member

It seems they don't think about much. What were they thinking when they implemented a forced bell curve that reduces some student's grades as the only curving option? Who uses that? 

New Member


Community Champion

I have a similar issue with extra credit replacements for my quizzes.  As a solution I have found that the optional assignments that I offer as replacements for required assignments can be set to a default grade of zero before I publish the course.  I also add a note that the zeros are required in order for canvas to drop the correct number of assignments and will be replaced when I grade any optional submissions.  After drop add I message all students who have not been graded with a similar note and then add zeros for them as well.

How do I set a default grade for an assignment in the New Gradebook? 

How do I send a message to students from the New Gradebook? 


The result is that canvas displays the optional assignments as the dropped zeros until I enter any replacement grade.  In my case these are online submissions, and the gradebook shows me an icon over the zero when a submission is turned in that needs grading. 

New Member

I've always thought that Canvas gradebook was unnecessarily complicated for a couple of reasons. Having to tell gradebook to treat missing or ungraded as zero (rather than it just being the default) was one of the primary reasons.

Now, without being able to do that AT ALL, the Canvas gradebook has become even more unnecessarily complicated!

Missing grades should be treated as zero BY DEFAULT. However, at the very least, we should be able to choose that option in global gradebook settings. As many others have pointed out,

1) students think their scores are higher than they actually are

2) instructors now need to go into the gradebook and click on each individual missing grade and manually type in "0," which is a massive waste of time, with no logical reason that I can determine.

Please return the option Smiley Happy

Community Champion

 @matthew_metcalf ‌ and  @tlainsco  I do hope you got from this discussion that as an instructor if you choose to treat Ungraded as 0's, that doesn't affect what students see, only what you see. They can still see all ungraded treated as 0 or treated as not counting against them in their total grade, which can be very misleading.  It's their choice which has not been removed from student view.  The only way to make sure they see a 0 for a missed assignment is to have that 0 entered in the gradebook.  It's very easy with the Set Default Grade option in both new and old gradebook to quickly set all of an assignment's missing grades to 0 as Stefanie Sanders outlined and Steven Schwamenfeld thoroughly describes.  You just need to do it assignment by assignment, after all submissions have been made to it, perhaps your final step after doing the assignment's grading or finishing a quiz.  Even if you have a liberal late policy, it might be helpful to nudge students to submit if they see a 0 for it a few days or weeks after it is due, you control when. If they submit late your new grade will replace the 0.  I hope this way of keeping students informed of their progress will work for you.

There may be other reasons for teachers to want to see the gradebook with items without a grade acting like a 0, but as far as clarity for students it doesn't apply.

Community Contributor

Great suggestions, Nancy, thank you! This is something we have also had to deal with. I believe that currently, by default, we hide that Total calculation entirely from students (under each course's Settings) so that there is no confusion.

It may be something that needs to be scoped out as a separate feature idea – but if we were to re-enable this for students, it would be very useful to be able to force the default 'Total' grade display for students to be the 'Treat ungraded as 0' Total. If this could be forced at the account level by admins, that would be perfect.

We would prefer to set it so that students cannot toggle this setting themselves in Grades, and so that we can decide that they always see the 'Treat ungraded as 0' Total calculation.

Community Champion

Unfortunately in the old gradebook, "treat ungraded as zero" never transferred to the student view.  This means that students continued to think their scores were higher than their actual grade, unless they knew to un-check the box available in student view for "calculate based on only graded assignments."


A feature retained from the old gradebook is "set default grade" which allows instructors to fill all ungraded cells with a zero (or any grade appropriate) one assignment at a time.  This option is available in the drop-down menu of each assignment.  Just be sure not to check the option to replace existing grades!


A new feature added to the new gradebook is the missing policy, available from the gear in the upper right corner.  It automatically adds a zero (or any grade you choose) to every assignment that lacks a submission as soon as the due date passes. 


Hopefully these options cover most needs, but given the frequency of confusion about these new grading options, it might help to have a global "set default grade" that instructors can use as may be appropriate at the end of the course, as a way to replace the way some were using "treat ungraded as zero."

New Member

It is very sad to see that the Canvas team got rid of the option "treat ungraded as zero". As the Deputy Chair of the Computer Science department I get many questions regarding final averages and Canvas grade-center. The "treat ungraded as zero" was one of the features that my faculty and myself used all the time and was very helpful. For many reasons faculty don't like to enter 0s for specific assignments but still want to be able to see what the real average would be with a hypothetical 0 in those assignments.

Another reason that our faculty used it was for students who got incomplete grades. Since those students were granted INC grades the professors do not want to enter 0s for the missing assignments but now without the "treat ungraded as zero" the student average grade is always high.

On behalf of my faculty and myself we would like to request to add this feature back to the grade-center.

Community Champion
Another reason that our faculty used it was for students who got incomplete grades. Since those students were granted INC grades the professors do not want to enter 0s for the missing assignments but now without the "treat ungraded as zero" the student average grade is always high.

This is the best use I can think of for treat ungraded as zero!  When faculty allow an incomplete, we are typically required to indicate what the student score would be without that incomplete.  A need to know what a grade would be without actually entering zeros may also come up wen responding to questions from individual students about their grades.   

Treat ungraded as zero allows that calculation, while leaving assignments that students will still be allowed to turn in ungraded.  For this purpose "treat ungraded as zero" is actually still available, but only in individual view of the new gradebook.  Instructors reporting an incomplete will need to be told to switch to individual view to find that option, but that is OK since there are not typically many incomplete grades in a single class, and we only need to see a single student's grades when we are answering questions about those grades. 

Community Contributor

Hi, all!

Our instructors would really like this useful feature back. For all of the improvements in the new gradebook, the only commentary here amongst instructors is, "What happened to treat ungraded as 0?" Just a few days in, and they are really missing it.

Best regards,


New Member

To make this change and remove "treat ungraded as zero" makes the design team look well out of step with its customers who are paying for the service. Voting is nice, but take the advice on this page and reinstitute this ASAP. It is a change that has downgraded your service, not the direction you hope to be moving.

Community Member

I run a very large online course (4000 students in 2019), that is assessed only through canvas quizzes, which do not have due dates, because enrollments occur throughout the year. My students and teaching assistants find it very confusing that the Total column does not show how well a student is doing overall in the course because, as others have pointed out, its possible for students to achieve e.g. 70% in some quizzes, and skip others, yet still see 70% reflected as their Total. In the last month of the term last year, I set the default grade to 0 for all quizzes without overwriting existing scores, which worked perfectly to show staff and students what their Total scores were, and it didn't prevent students from completing any quizzes that they had a 0 score for. This year, I wanted to start the course with the default grade set to 0 but unfortunately found that this setting only applies to already enrolled students. When another cohort is added to the course during the semester, I would have to set the default to 0 again, and again, and again (if that would even work). Why can't 'set the default to 0' be applied to assignments at the beginning of a course so that it will apply to any subsequent enrollments? Wouldn't this solve the issue of students, in particular, not seeing an accurate Total score when they have only done some of the assignments that they are supposed to do? Hiding the total, or having a toggle to treat all ungraded as 0 (which students can't see), or adding due dates, are not useful options for this course as students need to see an accurate score based their missing as well as graded assignments.